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True grit from Tipperary pleases 'drained' O'Shea

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Tipperary manager Eamon O'Shea and Kilkenny boss Brian Cody look up at the big screen along with the sideline officials as Hawkeye rules on John O'Dwyer's late free. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Tipperary manager Eamon O'Shea and Kilkenny boss Brian Cody look up at the big screen along with the sideline officials as Hawkeye rules on John O'Dwyer's late free. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Tipperary manager Eamon O'Shea and Kilkenny boss Brian Cody look up at the big screen along with the sideline officials as Hawkeye rules on John O'Dwyer's late free. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Seamus Callanan picking five points from play off JJ Delaney, Lar Corbett having his best game in three years, 'Bonner' Maher being the nuisance he was expected to be, Shane McGrath continuing on from where he left off in the semi-final, a Brian Cody-managed Kilkenny team conceding their biggest ever number of scores in a championship game.

Most pre-match variables for a Tipperary win came good yet they are still without a win over Kilkenny in six successive matches, still with just one win from 10 attempts since the 2010 All-Ireland final.

Tipperary are entitled to ask why and how that is.

But minutes after another epic All-Ireland hurling final draw - is there any other type of All-Ireland hurling final at this stage - is not a time for managers to dissect and probe those whys and hows.

Instead Eamonn O'Shea allows himself to focus on a well worn and repetitive topic - Tipperary's character.

It has been a source of debate for much of the latter part of the careers of these young men in blue and gold but it shone through here in the closing quarter like never before.

"In fairness I've being saying a bit about the players (character) for a good while now. I just thought they did really well today," said the 'drained' Tipperary manager.

"They worked really hard and they believed in what they were doing. We could have won it and we might have lost it but we were playing against a fantastic team."

Padraic Maher went a step further by suggesting a few questions about them had been answered with the manner of their comeback from four points down in the last nine minutes.

"We dogged it out in the end and managed to get the draw. It is something that people have questioned us about in the past, but we answered some of those questions there today," reflected Maher.

Maher was directly behind John O'Dwyer as he sized up that last minute free from almost 100 metres out that drifted narrrowly wide and he knew the outcome without needing to glance at a screen.

"I was standing right behind 'Bubbles'. I stood right behind his free and I thought it for three-quarters of the way it was going over the bar. But it just curled off at the finish.

Fantastic

"I didn't even look up at the Hawk-Eye because I knew it was gone wide," he said.

"But they are just the ups and downs of the game. It was fantastic. It must have been some game to watch and it was great to be a part of it."

For O'Shea, the performance from Corbett was something he had anticipated in the weeks leading up to the game.

"My expectation of Larry would be pretty high and he knows that. I was pretty confident that today would be a good day for Larry. I did really get that sense."

Maher said the belief that they could win the game never wilted as they grappled with Kilkenny pressing to extend their lead beyond four points for so much of the second half.

"We always believe that we are going to win anyway," conceded Maher. "That didn't change for the last ten minutes either so it's great to still be there in it."

Maher credited his full-back line - two of which were playing in an All-Ireland senior final for the first time - for withstanding the pressure applied.

"Kilkenny won a few balls in the full-back line but, in fairness, I think our lads held them up well at times. We worked very hard and we didn't concede too much. We gave away one or two stupid frees but we weren't too hesitant in the tackle.

"The two teams bring out the best in each other. The last few years we have shown that," he said.

Maher's policing of Richie Hogan in the second half will be a subject of review for Tipperary this week. He stayed, Hogan went and Hogan pulled the pot.

"Kilkenny have hurt us in the past by coming through the middle and scoring goals. That's what they do.

"If you do have to go with Richie Hogan in that situation you are going to leave the whole middle open. It's unfortunate but he is a class player and he takes watching."

Another segment of analysis will ask how they didn't mine more goals after opening up Kilkenny so much. Had they been too obsessed with scoring goals when a steady stream of points may given them a different last quarter challenge?

"Look, they're forwards," conceded O'Shea on the shot selection. "They work on instinct. Sometimes these things turn out right, sometimes they don't. You have to go with it.

"You can't have an inquiry every time a guy takes a decision and say, 'should he have taken another decision?' You just have to go with it. Ups and downs."

O'Shea admitted he'd have taken a draw with 10 minutes remaining but feels there is more to come from a group he says that are taking the county through a period of transition.

It's good that we're getting some new players. Believe it or not, we are in transition. I know that doesn't go down well but we are. We're transitioning into a new team."

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